...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's Time to Flush the Hallmark Theology

Consider it your calling to debunk, in every way possible, the seasonal onslaught that's trumpeted in every piece of media, from the Grinch to the latest Hallmark special. The sad thing is, we so buy into it! What happens when we end up pinning all our hopes on whatever we can somehow produce on our own, whether it be good intentions or good actions?

We look back at another December and wonder why we feel so empty and exhausted. Maybe it was the toxic theology that we first ingested along with the primal Christmas special and the Thanksgiving turkey.

We don't have to swallow whatever anyone has to say about God. In fact, it is faithful pastoral work, as well as self-care, to disqualify some claims- to refuse them as sub- Christian. When someone says that God has a reason for the death of your loved one, instead of getting mad at God, learn how to get good and angry with that kind of this-for-that theology! But don't let that be an excuse for you to resist the life- infusion of the Spirit or to stop seeking God, the Lover of your soul!

I've always taken the Grinch story as a good critique of our materialism. But just to rid yourself of the attachment to stuff doesn't necessarily lead to life until you ask, what is filling the void? The story implies that human kindness and gratitude is what makes Christmas what it is. As helpful as human warmth can be, it's not my own goodness that can deliver me from the addiction to excessive grabbing, and the fear-based mantra that enough is never really enough.

I wish we weren't so susceptible to this season's message of salvation through buying and the self-manufacture of happiness. It's time to spare ourselves of all of the false consolations of a Hallmark theology--and receive the promise of the One who is coming, the One who is more wondrous and life-giving than we can ever think or imagine... the One who exceeds any human expectation.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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